How Non-Celebs Are Winning The Popularity Contest On Social Media

Social media contest on SmartphoneAs I scroll through Instagram every evening and Twitter every morning, I’m always surprised by which accounts are popular and which aren’t. The ones you’d think have a ton of interactivity don’t; the ones you’ve never heard of have crazy-big fan followings.

Surprisingly, some of the most popular social media accounts are led by “nobodies” – and I only say that to mean non-celebrities. Anybody branding themselves or marketing a business could take some notes from these cool kids of the social media world.


Figure out who your competition is and then get close to them. Sound backwards? Your competitors aren’t your enemies – they’re your teachers. You can learn from them, not just about what to do right, but about what to do differently. If there’s a gap in their output, that’s where you can swoop in and catch a varied audience. It’s not about stealing their client base, but about creating a new one that they haven’t tapped into yet (albeit with some overlap, but that’s just business).


Let’s say you sell jewelry – do you only connect with people who clearly love jewelry? No, you also connect with people who love shoes, handbags and women’s magazines, because guess what – they’re going to also like jewelry. Branching out from your niche industry doesn’t mean you’ll lose your fan base, it means you’ll expand it. Not only do you have to engage people who distinctly like what you sell, but you have to position yourself where those people go.


I can’t tell you how many Pinterest boards I’ve had to redesign for new marketing clients of mine. It’s funny when someone looks over my shoulder while I’m doing this. “Your job is ridiculous, I can’t believe you get paid for that,” I often hear. Focus is important for a business or personal brand, though. If you’re going to use your social media accounts for just yourself, then don’t worry about it. If you want your social media accounts to promote your career, though, think before you post. Sure, a photographer may be interested in cooking, but if they’re not doing commercial work or shooting for a food magazine, images of their breakfast sandwich don’t belong online.


Headlines aren’t just for headlining anymore. Writers know the power of strong phrases, which can be used as e-mail subject lines, custom hashtags, captions, etc. Thinking in headlines will help you to regularly create engaging content. If you have a MailChimp account, you can even split up e-mail campaigns to see how well certain headlines perform compared to others.


What’s easier than building up your own following online? Well, anything, really – building a fan base is hard. Partnering up is a great way to draw some attention to yourself, especially in the beginning. By connecting with people who will let you write for them (under your name, of course), you can tap into their audience and start building your own.


Unless a blog post had some time factor to it (an event that’s passed, a specific sports game recap, a defunct TV show review), repurpose them. “How to Plan a Winter Wedding” was useful three years ago and it’s still useful now. The same goes for images – if you posted a photo to Facebook six months ago, odds are that most of your followers aren’t going to remember, or at least they’re not going to judge you for daring to post it again.


Any quality content creator will tell you that providing value is their number one rule; the same goes for social media superstars. Your audience won’t show up if you’re not delivering something they want. Making an impact, inspiring others and providing useful information means people will listen to your virtual voice. Ultimately, it’s really about giving, not getting – what can you give your audience that they’ll appreciate and want more of?

Jason Bayless is a professional blogger that gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice. He writes for, a nationally recognized comparison website of the best SEO companies in the United States.